The Back Nine: Spurrier must-see TV

Orlando Apollos head coach Steve Spurrier, right, walks back to his players after talking with Atlanta Legends head coach Kevin Coyle during warmup before an AAF football game Feb. 9 in Orlando. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The Back Nine comes at you after a busy weekend in Gainesville and if you think that was busy wait until you see what’s in store for you this weekend.

10. The Back Nine is a big fan of lists and Sports Illustrated outdid itself by ranking the top 10 vacated football games of all time. You can tell we are in the dog days of football. Of course, seven of the 10 games involved either USC or Alabama. Florida hasn’t had to vacate any football wins in its history so the Gators have that going for them. We do have some football worth watching with the Alliance of American Football and I have to say that I made sure I was in the recliner for Steve Spurrier’s second game. The shade he threw was classic when he compared the 29,000 fans in San Antonio to the crowds at Neyland Stadium. “I think it was just as loud as Rocky Top,” he said. “And I know The Swamp is maybe a little bit louder.” Spurrier has been after Tim Tebow to join, but Tebow said Saturday he is “all in” on baseball. Spurrier coaching Tebow with both of them on the mike would be the best TV ever.

11. I think there are a lot of us who want to believe Florida’s basketball team hit a switch and the light came Saturday in Tuscaloosa. We’ll find out down the stretch, but it’s more likely that Alabama continues to be a little schizophrenic. One thing that has happened with these Gators is that we are seeing some improvement within the season, something that had been lacking deep into SEC play. Andrew Nembhard is getting better (9 for 9 was a bit of an aberration, but he is improving as a shooter) and the three amigos all starting as freshmen seems to be paying dividends. At LSU on Wednesday will be a different animal. The Tigers in their second year under Will Wade are terrific and have a knack for winning tight games.

12. So I was curious to see where the Gators were in the NET Rankings, the official measure of a team’s worth from the NCAA. Problem was the site was down or running extremely slow until around 11:30 a.m. Monday. We simply cannot have that NCAA. Anyway, because a lot of us are starting to get a feel for these rankings, I figured Florida would jump. And the Gators did, all the way to No. 33 (from 40). The Back Nine gets that the only ranking that matters is the final one, but this is an illustration that a season on the brink still has life. And as frustrating as this team has been to watch at times, you can’t fault the effort.

13. The Kentucky-Tennessee game Saturday night was appointment TV. And yet, there I was watching a sitcom when I should have been buckling up for a wild finish. The biggest question about Kentucky’s manhandling of the No. 1 Vols is whether the Rocky Toppers were overrated. There is certainly a school of thought that buys in — Pat Forde of Yahoo wrote a smart piece about it — but there is also the theory that Tennessee just had a bad night. Kentucky is a bad matchup for a lot of teams, especially at home and especially when the game means something. The Vols’ schedule ranks 21st in strength and that’s not too shabby. I tend to believe that it was just one of those nights and the rematch will be fascinating in Knoxville. But you always wonder how a beating like that will affect a team’s mojo. By the way, Kentucky fans fell into the trap of idiocy by chanting “Over-Rated” at the Vols. It’s the dumbest cheer in America. We beat you so you can’t be any good? Dummy.

14. Kevin O’Sullivan told us what to expect, a young team that may take some lumps early. With five true freshmen on the field when the game ended Sunday, he may have underestimated how young the Gators would be. There is no doubt the talent is there and while Long Beach State is not anything special (under .500 last year), the Gators still swept a team that was loaded with older players. This weekend will be a good indicator, because the Gators take on a Miami team that is unranked but supposedly much improved this year under first-year coach Gino DiMare. The Hurricanes blew past Rutgers for a sweep on the opening weekend. Considering the solid numbers in the first three games, you could see some special crowds in the Mac this weekend.

15. By the way, O’Sullivan getting to 500 wins is just a round number, but it is an illustration of the great job he has done when you consider that he has only lost 229 games during his 11-plus years. You lose 20 games accidentally every year in college baseball because there are so many games (especially in the mid-week) and to average 20.8 losses is impressive. The most impressive number of all is 11, as in 11 straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament (not to mention seven College World Series). One thing Jeremy Foley was a big believer in was that the Gators should be in the tournament every year and when you are in there enough you get the right team and celebrate a national title.

16. Of course, we have so much going on here that your typical Gator fan has to make some choices. No. 5 baseball all weekend (and the weather is supposed to be nice), basketball against Missouri on Saturday, the No. 3-ranked gymnastics team in America at home against Georgia on Friday night and the No. 4 ranked and unbeaten (11-0) softball team hosting its own tournament at the brand new softball stadium. Take your pick. Now leave me alone while I try to figure out what to cover.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from the great golf writer from ESPN Jason Sobel — “One of the worst things about slow play is that it gives everyone extra time to tweet about slow play.” That’s the thing. I watched most of the Genesis Open on Sunday and I didn’t care about the slow play because it doesn’t matter that much on TV when they can switch to another golfer while J.B. Holmes is taking 15 minutes to hit a wedge shot. It didn’t bother me because I wanted something to drag on just to have late Sunday viewing. The thing about slow play is that people always complain and nothing ever happens. It was pretty funny to see former Gator golfer Matt Every actually pull up a folding chair in the fairway while he waited.

18. I received just enough positive feedback from including YouTube versions of the songs online ( that I’m going to keep it up. It means more work for me, but I am here to serve you. Kind of. This week’s playlist:

“New House” by Rex Orange County.

“Pumpkin” by The Regrettes.

“Northern Lights” by Death Cab for Cutie.

• “After the Sun” by Kim Churchill.

(The video comes out Thursday. It’s worth finding then.)

• And for an old one that’s not that old but I guess really is that old, “Take On Me” by A-ha (as much as I love Weezer’s version, let’s go with the original of an underrated song).

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at


  1. Let’s see. Tennessee was rated #1. They got slapped all over the court by a lower rated team. The fans, noting that the supposed #1 team in the country was being dominated, note that the team does not, indeed, seem worthy of the #1 rating. Therefore, they observe that Tennessee is “over-rated.” This seems like they are clearly stating what is factually true. How is that dumb?

    It seems clear that, in fact, Tennessee was literally over-rated. In fact, the pollsters agree and have dropped them to a lower rated position. The words “over-rated” don’t mean “you suck.” They mean your rating is higher than your ability warrants. The UK fans are not dumb. They understand what words mean.

    • Agree; it might be dumb if the game was a one possession game but it was a complete cakewalk. I quite watching at the 17 minute mark of the second half. When UK gets the Rupp crowd going it’s tough to win there.

    • Agree with you Jaws. I saw Calipari getting on the crowd for the chant and I was thinking…what’s the big deal. UT DID appear over-rated. In two weeks when UK visits Thompson-Boling….they may appear otherwise, but Saturday night….they were over-rated. Our increasingly thin-skinned society is ridiculous.

      • It will be interesting. UK punched UT in the face, and they backed down from the tip off. Will the officials let UK turn the next game into another rugby match? I doubt it, but if they do UT needs to get their elbows up.

    • Jaws has the right of it. “Over-rated” doesn’t mean “No good”. But I’m pretty sure that’s what fans think when they’re chanting. Being ranked #1 doesn’t necessarily mean “the best”. But it might mean the best resume at a time during a season. Tenn. was certainly not the best team in that game with KY. But it’s worth noting KY was coming off a loss to LSU where they got jobbed on a no-call offensive goal tending. KY was motivated in a way Tenn. wasn’t. What’s that mean going forward? We’ll see. But in moment, yes – Tenn. was over-rated.

      • They looked like a JV team getting pushed, shoved, knocked down. What surprised me is that they never fought back, but just let a bunch of kids slap them in the face. You can’t be a champion if you allow the other team to disrespect you like that.

  2. Sorry guys two losses is not over-rated. I don’t care for the Vols but let’s be reasonable. That’s like saying Bama is overrated for losing to Clemson in the National Championship. Ya right… I’m giving them a break because they have beat everyone else. If they beat Kentucky in Knoxville what will you say, luck? What if we beat Kentucky will we be calling Kentucky over-rated? What I’m saying is that Kentucky has arrogant basketball fans that like to rub it in the opposing teams face that they are better than your team. They usually are in basketball, just like Duke but it’s what they say every time they beat a team that’s higher ranked than them.

    • I’m with you, JIM. I’m in the “UT had a bad game” camp. I think they’ll return the favor in Thompson-Boling, and be back on track. The Cats are definitely good, though, and getting better, as usual, as their freshmen mature.

    • UK made them have a bad game. UK clearly came out with a game plan to play MMA-style basketball, and when Kentucky’s team of kids smacked them in the face, UT just started crying and ran home. We’ll see what happens next time. My bet is that the officials won’t just close their eyes and ignore the fouls again, but if they do, UT needs to draw blood for blood and let Kentucky know they can’t get away with mauling their players. Do they have the toughness? I didn’t see it in that game. All I saw was weakness.

  3. And “Take on Me” is not underrated. Once it starts playing over the loud speakers at any gaming event, the fans sing along every time. I wonder how many people realize some of the A-ha video was inspired by the movie “Altered States” with William Hurt, Drew Barrymore, and Charles Haid (of Hill Street Blues)?

  4. You can always count on on Coach Spurrier to have fun slashing other teams. Great start for the softball and baseball teams. Congralations to Barnhill for her 2nd straight SEC pitcher of the week award. 👌👏😎

  5. Ok, again, I’m not a basketball person, but I did watch some of the UT/UK game. It appeared to me that UK was just a far better team. UT had no answer for anything UK tried and did. There is a heavyweight “rule of thumb”, that once someone knocks the other guy out, he will always knock out the guy in a rematch. Therefore, I’m predicting UK kicks UT’s butt again in Knoxville. UT appeared overrated against our, somewhat hapless Gators. Any body else ready to predict the game…hummmm?